The Well-Trained Mind, 4th Edition tells how to use timelines, how to label them and why you use specific increments, how to record historical people and events, and fine arts.
If you wish to purchase a timeline, we recommend the Blank Timeline from Rainbow Resources' selection, and Add-A-Century Timeline. Other vendors include Knowledge Quest Timelines, and Home School in the Woods Timelines.
There are many options if you decide to make your own.
Take a roll of half-height white "butcher paper" (Lakeshore Learning), and put 6 lines on it, five lines representing a different part of the world and the last, if you wish, a special interest line--natural disasters, plagues, wars, periods of artistic style, Church history, political movements--whatever you would like to track in a called-out line.
If you use only one line for your timeline, multiple events will get bunched up and it will not be as easy to see the connection (or lack of connection) between events in different parts of the world. You might want to use different geographical regions, depending on your interests; this is what our in-house timeline aficionado used:
- Brown - Middle East
- Red - Far East and Asia, Australia
- Green - Europe
- Orange - Africa
- Blue - North and South America
- Purple - Special interest
Susan Wise Bauer recommends in her book using proportional spacing, that is (for example) 100-year increments from the beginning of recorded history to the end because it more accurately represents the passage of time.
If your students can understand algorithmic increments, you can use that. This lets you cover the early history in a shorter space, and gives you more space to note events in more recent times, where we have more recorded history. If you use algorithmic increments, try this: 500 years per foot until about 1000 BC/BCE. Then go to 100 years per foot until about 1200 AD/CE, and then 50 years per foot until about 1600 and then 25 years per foot until about 1850 and then 10 years per foot. That roll can be turned into a scroll.
Other options: use adding machine tape, one tape per color. This is easier to store and to modify but it is more work to label. Use clotheslines and clothespins, or gutter troughs attached to a long hallway. Or the same idea using wire and paper-clips.
The simplest option might be to create a document with the colored lines as above and print as you go, and put the pages into a notebook.